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Current Affairs 18 December 2020 for UPSC Exam

Contents

  1. Breach of Privilege Motion
  2. UNEP on emissions from building sector
  3. Bustard conservation and Power Lines
  4. Govt. plans Investment on gas infrastructure
  5. House panel members on PMGKAY extension

BREACH OF PRIVILEGE MOTION

Focus: GS-II Polity and Governance

Why in news?

Questioning the boundaries of the judiciary’s powers, both Houses of the Maharashtra State Legislature passed proposals stating that they will not take cognizance of or reply to any notice sent by the High Court or the Supreme Court in the Breach of Privilege motion against a TV Anchor and Editor.

What is a privilege motion?  

  • Members of Parliament (MPs) enjoy certain parliamentary privileges which are bestowed on them collectively and individually so that they can discharge their duties and functions effectively.
  • In the case that any of these immunities or rights are disregarded by any MP, the act is regarded as a ‘breach of privilege’ and is a punishable offence under Laws of Parliament.
  • When a breach of privilege is found, then an MP can move a privilege motion against those being held guilty of breach.
  • Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha reserve the right to punish any action of contempt (not necessarily breach of privilege) which is against its authority and dignity.

Where do these rules find mention?

  • The rules governing privilege motion are mentioned as Rule 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and as Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha Rule Book.
  • According to the rules, an MP may raise a question of breach of privilege with the Speaker or the Chairperson, notices for which have to be sent to them before 10am.
  • The breach of privilege could be of another MP, a committee or of the House. However, the rules mandate the notice should be regarding an incident which has occurred recently and that it needs the intervention of the House.

What is the authority of the Speaker/ Chairperson vis-à-vis privilege motion?

  • The first level of scrutiny that a privilege motion has to go through is that of the Speaker, in case the motion is moved in the Lok Sabha, and that of the Chairperson when a motion is moved in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Speaker/Chairperson may decide on the privilege motion at their own discretion or they may refer it to a parliamentary committee.
  • If the Speaker/Chairperson admits the motion, then the concerned member is given an opportunity to explain themselves by making a short statement.

What if the Speaker/Chairperson refers the motion to a parliamentary committee?

  • In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges which consists of 15 members proportionate to the strengths of various political parties in the Lower House of Parliament.
  • They prepare a report which is then presented before the House for its consideration.
  • The Speaker may allow a half-an-hour debate on the report before she/he passed the final orders.
  • The Speaker can also direct that the report be tabled before the House and a resolution may be unanimously passed on the breach of privilege. Currently, Congress MP PC Chacko is the chairperson of the privilege committee.
  • The process is similar in the Upper House, except that the privilege committee consists of 10 members and is headed by the deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.

Have privilege motions been passed in Parliament earlier?

A number of privilege motions have been passed in Parliament earlier, with most of them being rejected and very few demanding penal actions.

  • The most significant privilege motion was passed against Indira Gandhi in 1978.
  • The then Home Minister Charan Singh had moved a resolution of breach of privilege against her on the basis of observations made by Justice Shah Commission, which investigated the excesses during the Emergency.
  • Mrs Gandhi, who had just won the Lok Sabha elections from Chikmagalur, was expelled from the House.
  • In another case, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy was expelled from Rajya Sabha in 1976 for bringing disgrace to Parliament through his interviews to foreign publications.
  • In 1961, editor of ‘Blitz’ RK Karanjia was indicted with gross breach of privilege after the publication put out an article that publicly castigated Congress veteran JB Kripalani. Karanjia was reprimanded in Lok Sabha and the gallery pass of his correspondent was annulled.

Constitutional Provisions

  • The powers, privileges and immunities of either House of the Indian Parliament and of its Members and their committees are laid down in Article 105 of the Constitution.
  • While, the powers, privileges and immunities of the State Legislatures, their Members and their committees are described Article 194.

-Source: Indian Express


UNEP ON EMISSIONS FROM BUILDING SECTOR

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Highlights of Global Status Report for Building and Construction 2020

  • The building sector emitted more than a third of global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) — a record 10 gigatonnes (Gt) — in 2019, the United Nations Environment Programme said.
  • Building operations accounted for 28 per cent global emissions while construction-related industries (cement, glass, etc) added another 10 per cent, according to the 2020 Global Status Report for Building and Construction.
  • The CO2 emissions increased due to a high proportion of fossil fuels used for power generation, combined with higher activity levels in regions where electricity remains carbon-intensive, the report said.

Way Forward

Rising emissions in buildings and construction sector emphasise the urgent need for a triple strategy of:

  1. Aggressively reducing energy demand in the built environment,
  2. Decarbonizing the power sector and
  3. Implementing materials strategies that reduce lifecycle carbon emissions.

The report suggested the governments should help achieve net-zero carbon by 2050 by systematically including building decarbonisation measures into recovery packages by:

  1. Increasing renovation rates
  2. Channelling investment into low-carbon buildings
  3. Providing jobs and increasing real-estate value

-Source: Indian Express


BUSTARD CONSERVATION AND POWER LINES

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

A proposal to put all power transmission lines passing through Great Indian Bustard (GIB) habitat underground did not find support from the Union Ministry of Power (MoP) and the Rajasthan government.

What was the issue regarding Conservation of GIB?

The idea of putting the power transmission lines underground was one of the recommendations of the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII). WII was ordered by the NGT to come up with these recommendations.

What could not be done?

  • The MNRE did not agree with WII’s recommendation on disallowing new wind turbines and solar farms in the priority GIB habitat in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • MNRE stated that many private sector projects had been allocated in this area after competitive bidding that could not be stopped at this stage.
  • Various officers in Rajasthan had decided that putting the transmission lines underground would not be possible.

What has been done?

The participants informed the environment ministry that actions had been taken on WII’s other recommendations, such as: development of predator-proof enclosures 5-10 square kilometres in area as well as delineating priority GIB habitats outside Rajasthan’s Desert National Park as ‘eco-sensitive zones’.

Great Indian Bustard (GIB)

  • Bustards are large, terrestrial birds (ostrich like appearance) living mainly in dry grassland areas and on the steppes of the Old World.
  • The great Indian bustard is a bustard found on the Indian subcontinent.
  • The Great Indian Bustards are among the heaviest of the flying birds.
  • Great Indian Bustards are listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red Data list.
  • GIB is listed in Appendix I of CITES and under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2002.
  • The Habitat of the GIB is:  Arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered short scrub, bushes and low intensity cultivation in flat or gently undulating terrain.
  • The GIB is threatened by widespread hunting for sport and food.
  • Other Threats include: Activities such as mining, stone quarrying, growth of industries, heavy pesticide use, grassland conversion and power projects along with the expansion of roads, electricity pylons, wind turbines, solar energy projects and other infrastructures have increased the severity of habitat degradation and disturbance.

Project Great Indian Bustard

This project is implemented in the state of Rajasthan for identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as providing secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas.

Notable areas where GIB is protected:

  1. Desert National Park Sanctuary — Rajasthan
  2. Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh
  3. Karera Wildlife Sanctuary– Madhya Pradesh

-Source: Indian Express


GOVT. PLANS INVESTMENT ON GAS INFRASTRUCTURE

Focus: GS-III Industry and Infrastructure

Why in news?

  • Indian Petroleum Minister said the government had planned a $60-billion investment for creating gas infrastructure in the country till 2024.
  • Natural gas is being considered as the fuel of the day as the current demand-supply gap in energy, depletion of fossil fuels and environmental constraints have created a necessity for exploring alternative energy resources which are cleaner and environment-friendly.
  • The present mode of delivery of gas is through cylinders which is a costly affair.

Details

  • The Minister said that gas’s share in the energy mix is expected to rise to 15% by 2030. (Currently, gas accounts for 6% in the country’s total energy mix.)
  • India’s first automated national-level gas trading platform was unveiled in 2020 to promote and sustain an efficient and robust gas market and foster gas trading in the country.
  • The Government has envisaged a spend of $60 billion in creating gas infrastructure till 2024, including for pipelines, LNG terminals and CGD (city gas distribution) networks.
  • The Government is adopting clean mobility solutions with greater use of LNG (liquefied natural gas) as a transportation fuel, including long-haul trucking and plans to have 1,000 LNG fuel stations across the country.

What is City Gas Distribution?

  • Natural Gas Distribution or City Gas Distribution (CGD) is a growing sector that aims to provide an uninterrupted supply of gas to domestic, commercial and industrial customers in the form of PNG and CNG.
  • City Gas Distribution (CGD) system uses a pipeline system for transport of gas and their distribution among consumers.

Implications of a National Gas Grid

  • Gas delivered via pipeline in the urban households would minimize the use of gas cylinders.
  • These empty gas cylinders can be shifted to the rural area to deliver cooking gas.
  • This will be a major boost to achieve accessibility of clean cooking fuel to all the households in the rural areas.
  • Natural gas is less costly when compared with other conventional fuels.

-Source: Indian Express


HOUSE PANEL MEMBERS ON PMGKAY EXTENSION

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

At a meeting of a parliamentary committee members demanded that the free food grain scheme – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana PMJAY – started by the government as part of the rescue package to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, that ended on November 30, should be extended.

Under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)

  • Considered as world’s largest food security scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana aims at ensuring sufficient food for the poor and needy during the coronavirus crisis.
  • It was announced as part of the first relief package during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Part of the scheme, the food needs to be provided to all the beneficiaries under public distribution system (TPDS) for Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority household (PHH) ration cardholders.
  • Under PMGKAY each one of the 80 crore Indians would be provided double (5+5Kgs) of their current entitlement of Rice and Wheat.
  • Pulses: To ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above-mentioned individuals, 1 kg per family, would be provided pulses according to regional preferences for next three months. These pulses would be provided free of cost by the Government of India.

-Source: Indian Express

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